Irish Language Blog

Téarmaí Nollag (Christmas Terms in Irish) Posted by on Dec 7, 2009 in Irish Language

 (le Róislín)

The next of the non-stop seasonal festivities is upon us, and I must admit that there are some pretty clever fógraí le téamaí Nollag out there on TV.  I saw a good one this morning in which a réinfhia [RAYN-EE-uh] and a míonótár [MEEN-oh-tawr] were sitting in a booth in a diner, debating what sort of things people could believe in.  At least, that was the gist of it as far as I remember. An bhfaca tú féin é?

Ach rud aisteach, mar a tharlaíonns go minic le fógraí atá ar fheabhas – ní cuimhin liom cén táirge a bhí ann!  But a funny thing that happens with really excellent ads – I forget what the product was!

Leid: fia [FEE-uh] deer


Gluais don chéad dá alt (thuas): aisteach [ASH-tyukh] strange; tarlaíonn [TAHR-lee-un] happens; feabhas [fyowss, that’s “ow” like US “cow” or “now”] excellence; ar fheabhas [err owss, note the “fh” is silent] excellent; is cuimhin [iss KIV-in] remember


táirge [TAWRzh-ig-yeh] product.  The “eh” here standing for the short vowel sound as in English  “pet” or Welsh “ie,” not for the Canadian or “Droll Yankee” drawn-out “ehhhh”.  Note the extra syllable created by the “helping vowel” added between the “r” and the “g.”  You may have noticed this already in other r-g combinations like “dearg” [DjAR-ug], “fearg” [FAR-ug], or “margadh” [MAR-uh-guh].


míonótár (I know it’s supposed to be a Christmas theme here, not miotaseolaíocht na Gréige, but, the réinfhia is the téamiocón (téama + iocón) for the ad under discussion.  Just wanted to point out here also, especially for anyone getting beagán fadradharcach, that this is “míon-“ with an “i fada.”  There is also a much more widely used prefix “mion-,” with an “i gairid” (short), that is used to make words like “mionrudaí” (details) and “mionsceitse” (thumb-nail sketch), srl.  The “minotaur” is named after the Greek king whose name in Irish is “Míonós” [MEEN-ohss], so the long-i spelling is simply retained.  Of course, my mind is wandering to the possibility of a “mionMhíonótár” (mini-Minotaur) but that requires even further suspension of díchreideamh.


Bhuel, sin dhá dtrian (two-thirds) den bhlag agus téarma amháin Nollag ann — réinfhia.  For a wrap <osna>, let’s just go over the forms of the word for Christmas itself and save more goodies (like carol, pudding, and tree) for an chéad bhlag eile


An Nollaig [un NUL-ik] (the) Christmas; that definite article (“an“) will show up in a few, but not most of the other Christmas phrases.


Nollag [NUL-uk] of Christmas, as in “cárta Nollag,” a Christmas card. 


Mí na Nollag [mee nuh NUL-uk] December, lit. the month of Christmas


Nóta 1: I’ve been looking for years to see if there was an Irish spelling for Hanukkah, Ramadan, Dhu al-Hijjah, or Kwanzaa.  “Hanukkah” and “Ramadan” were finally confirmed as being the official Irish forms as well (in a 2005 Irish religious dictionary) and I’ve yet to see anything official for Kwanzaa or Dhu al-Hijjah, ní nach ionadh


Nóta 2: By the way, I think I got the theme of the TV ad right.  I was ag iltascáil de luas nimhe le rudaí a chríochnú i ndiaidh a bheith tinn ar feadh seachtaine and basically saw the ad “as coirnéal mo shúile” and paid attention to it out of “as cúilín m’inchinne.” 


Gluais do Nóta a Dó: il-, multi-; de luas nimhe, at a furious pace; i ndiaidh, after; ar feadh [err fa] for; cúilín, little nook (I’d like to say “nookeen” but I’m not sure there’s a precedent in Hiberno-English!); inchinn, brain.

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